What are the lowest paying jobs in America?
Whether you enjoy working with animals and children or prefer the buzz of a busy restaurant, there’s a great low-paying job for you to earn extra cash without extensive training.
This article covers the best jobs with low wages you can pick up to earn some extra cash and help make ends meet.
The 25 Lowest Paying Jobs in America
We’ve covered the annual wages and hourly rates for these low-paying jobs and the roles and responsibilities your employers will be expecting from you.
Here’s our list of the 25 lowest-paying jobs in America:
25. Manicurists & Pedicurists
Mean Annual Wage: $29,010
There are over 70,000 people employed as manicurists and pedicurists in the United States, earning a median hourly wage of $13.40.
This job requires careful attention to the client’s beauty, keeping their fingernails and toenails clean and aesthetically decorated.
If you’re interested in this line of work, typically, you’ll find that a State license from a State-approved course is required.
Mean Annual Wage: $28,910
Mixing and serving drinks to clientele in bars can be challenging, requiring you to be on your feet for the entire shift and sometimes work late into the night.
Bartenders work everywhere, from out-of-town pool halls to high-class hotel bars that serve the most expensive alcoholic drinks you can buy to their wealthy customers.
With nearly half a million bartenders working today, it’s a popular low paying job for college students and those looking for flexible hours without an early start.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual earnings for bartenders is just £28,910.
23. Non-Farm Animal Caretakers
Mean Annual Wage: $28,380
Animal lovers looking for flexible work taking care of animals will find working as a non-farm animal caretaker incredibly fulfilling.
This involves looking after domesticated animals such as dogs, cars, fish, and zoo animals.
This work can be located in private residential homes or commercial venues, including pet stores and kennels.
The work involves feeding, grooming, walking, and medicating animals to ensure they are healthy and safe.
22. Automotive & Watercraft Service Attendants
Mean Annual Wage: $28,150
Service attendants work on a range of vehicles, and the role offers mechanical engineering enthusiasts a foot in the door, leading to much higher pay.
The role may start simple with filling up gas tanks and carrying out oil checks, but there’s plenty of scope to expand your skill stack here.
Watercraft service attendants have the opportunity to change their schedule for better productivity, committing themselves to a regular timetable while juggling multiple tasks in the role.
Whether you’re working at a gas station or marina, the average annual wage for automotive and watercraft service workers is $28,150.
21. Home Health & Personal Care Aides
Mean Annual Wage: $28,060
Looking after the elderly and infirm can be a truly rewarding experience, helping deliver the highest possible quality of life for those in their final years.
The activities lowest-paid workers can expect in this role include general housekeeping and meal preparation and running errands for the guests.
It may also involve more challenging tasks such as helping with bathing and changing those who cannot do so themselves.
20. Maids & Housekeepers
Mean Annual Wage: $28,010
Maids and housekeeping cleaners work in various locations to clean, make beds, and sometimes help raise children.
While maids can work in public establishments such as hotels and homes for the elderly, housekeepers typically work in private households to help well-off families.
It can be an opportunity to work and live in one of the most expensive cities in the world to live, with accommodation on the premises sometimes included in the role.
Housekeeping cleaners can work a wide variety of shifts depending on the client’s needs, with domestic cleaners typically working whenever the family is at work and school.
19. Parking Attendants
Mean Annual Wage: $27,910
Parking lot attendants are among the lowest-paid workers, with a median hourly wage of just $13 and a median annual wage of $27,910.
While the pay isn’t outstanding, the role is relatively easy, requiring you to park customers’ cars and return them when they’re ready to leave the establishment.
To become a parking attendant, you’ll need a valid driver’s license with insurance and the knowledge of how to drive cars of all types.
18. Waiters & Waitresses
Mean Annual Wage: $27,470
Sometimes referred to as “servers,” waiters and waitresses take orders, run the orders to the kitchen, and bring the food out to serve the customers.
It’s one of the lowest-paying food service jobs you can find, but there are plenty of job vacancies to choose from, with nearly two million Americans currently performing this role.
Get a job as a waiter or waitress, and you’ll gain a fascinating insight into high-quality food and beverages, while the work ethic associated with the role will change your mindset about success for the better.
As with bartender helpers, this role can be pretty demanding, so be prepared to be rushed off your feet when the establishment is fully booked.
17. Gambling & Sports Book Writers & runners
Mean Annual Wage: $27,130
Another low-paying job renowned for keeping people on their feet is gambling and sports book writers and runners, who help patrons place bets at sporting events.
This involves recording their bets, placing them for the client, and arranging for any payouts should the client win.
Bets can be placed for a wide range of activities, from horse and greyhound racing to keno and bingo, with a high school diploma preferable for applicants interested in this role.
16. Recreational Protective Services
Mean Annual Wage: $27,050
Fit and healthy young people looking for one of the more energetic lowest paying jobs might want to consider becoming one of the thousands of recreational protective service workers.
An understanding of CPR and first aid is required for this role, as it involves monitoring recreational areas in case of any accidents or emergencies.
There is a range of recreation facilities, with some recreation attendants working as lifeguards on beaches or at swimming pools while others work on ski slopes as ski patrol workers.
It can sometimes be seasonal work, which makes them ideal low-paying jobs for students looking to earn some money throughout the summer vacation period.
15. Hotel, Motel, & Resort Desk Clerks
Mean Annual Wage: $26,900
On the other end of the recreation spectrum, workers are hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks, who spend much of their time working behind a desk, as the title suggests.
With a median hourly wage of around £12.30, hotel and motel desk clerks employed in the United States number around 220,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
If you’re lucky, you might land a desk clerk role at one of the most expensive hotels in the world, where wealthy clients are more likely to give out large tips.
The role requires a little computer knowledge, as you’ll be computing bills and collecting payments for the hotel’s guests throughout the day.
14. Food-Preparation Workers
Mean Annual Wage: $26,820
If you’re interested in getting your foot in the hospitality door and have no experience, becoming one of America’s thousands of food preparation workers is a great place to start.
Food preparation workers don’t cook; instead, they are responsible for chopping vegetables, slicing meat, or brewing coffee.
The typical food prep worker earns an hourly wage of around $13 in fast-food restaurants and other similar eateries such as coffee shops.
Work in a high-end establishment, and you may get to deal with fine ingredients such as the most expensive cheeses in the world, providing you stick to the food safety standards.
Food preparation employees can sometimes work long hours and have to arrive at the establishment before other staff, but hard workers can get promoted to roles such as an assistant or line cook.
13. Childcare Workers
Mean Annual Wage: $26,790
Looking after children can certainly be exhausting sometimes, but it’s also incredibly rewarding to watch them grow and learn, as childcare workers can att to.
Earning a median hourly wage of $12.20 and with median annual earnings of $26,790, childcare workers can progress towards becoming preschool director.
The role requires looking after the children’s diet and hygiene, cleaning and bathing them as well as making sure they eat their lunch.
This can happen either in a daycare center, in your own home, or at the residency of the children in question, depending on the client’s requirements.
Child care workers are often flexible to meet the needs of the children, working either part-time or full-time or as and when required.
While you don’t need any qualifications, childcare workers are typically bright and enthusiastic to help nurture and bring out the best in the children.
12. Laundry & Dry-Cleaning Workers
Mean Annual Wage: $26,660
Laundry and dry-cleaning workers work with washing machines, dryers, and dry-cleaning machines to clean various garments.
This could be individual customer clothes, such as dresses, shirts, and suits, or other fabric items like blankets, bedsheets, and curtains.
The role takes place in a laundromat or industrial cleaning facility, depending on the nature of the clients, with on-the-job training bringing new employees up to speed.
With median annual earnings of $26,660, laundry and dry cleaning workers earn more than minimum wage, but the work can get pretty grueling.
11. Ushers, Lobby Attendants, & Ticket Takers
Mean Annual Wage: $26,390
If you enjoy being around the glitz and glamour of concert halls, cinemas, and theaters, working as ushers, lobby attendants, and ticket takers will put you close to the action.
These roles require you to help show patrons to their seats and help them locate other facilities in the establishment, such as restrooms and bars.
While these tasks are relatively straightforward, ushers and attendants must be hard workers, even if they earn pretty modest wages.
Some perks you can expect when working as an usher or lobby attendant include a chance to check out the shows for yourself, albeit from a standing position at the back of the auditorium.
10. Dining Room & Cafeteria Attendants & Bartender Helpers
Mean Annual Wage: $26,300
Another great low-paying job in the food services industry is working as a dining room or cafeteria attendant and bartender helper.
This role is focused on delivering the supplies for dining rooms, restaurants, and cafés to make sure everything is always stocked up.
Expect to help with delivering fresh linen, silverware, dishes, and other essential items to keep the establishment ticking over.
You may also be required to clear away dirty dishes and glassware and, on occasion, be asked to help serve customers coffee or water.
9. Gambling Dealers
Mean Annual Wage: $26,110
While the online gambling market continues to grow, traditional gambling remains strong, and becoming a gambling dealer is a good low paying job to earn some cash.
Gambling dealers need to be sharp and on the ball to spot any scams as they operate table games and card rooms in casinos and other gaming venues.
The role is high energy and entertaining, and you could even gain insights into how entrepreneurs built their Las Vegas empires, amassing a fortune in the process.
With hourly wages of around $11.40 and median annual earnings of £26,110, gambling dealers need to be great at math and have good people skills.
Some casinos will require applicants to have a high school diploma and language fluency, with vocational training also a part of the job description.
8. Pressers of Textiles, Garments, & Related Materials
Mean Annual Wage: $26,050
Another good low paying job you can take that involves working with clothes is as a presser of textiles, garments, and other related materials.
This job involves using presser machines to press or shape articles of fabric, either removing wrinkles or patching items onto other fabric.
You may use large industrial steam and hydraulic machines or a simple hand iron, and you’ll be expected to fold, hang, and package the finished item so it’s ready for delivery.
If you’re interested in working with materials, for instance, as a fashion designer, working as a presser for textiles and garments could be a nice introduction to this line of work.
Mean Annual Wage: $25,710
Cashiers can choose from part-time or full-time work, with the latter earning an annual salary of $25,710 from a median hourly wage of $12.
While you might not work with the world’s most expensive precious metals, working as a cashier will see plenty of cold, hard cash passing through your hands.
Cashiers work closely with customers to process payments in various businesses, from general grocery stores and supermarkets to restaurants and pharmacies.
Most cashiers will have to undergo basic on-the-job training before they begin, learning how to properly use cash registers and item scanners before dealing with customers.
While the role is often taken by those looking for flexible hours, there’s scope to advance from the role to higher-paid retail positions such as assistant store managers or customer service representatives.
6. Amusement & Recreation Attendants
Mean Annual Wage: $25,610
Amusement and recreation attendants can find work in a broad selection of venues that includes ski resorts, sports complexes, and amusement parks.
With many of America’s biggest theme parks continually adding new attractions, it’s a great way to gain entry to these resorts and make the most of the staff discounts available.
You may find yourself operating these new rides, working on a food stand, or providing the relevant equipment and clothing to the site’s visitors.
There are around a quarter of a million people employed as amusement and recreation attendants, many working in California and Florida.
Experience in the food service industry and general food preparation is desirable, although most roles won’t expect you to have any qualifications.
Mean Annual Wage: $25,600
Washing dishes might not be the most fun way to spend your time, but as low-paying jobs in America go, it’s certainly an easy way to make money.
Dishwashers typically work alongside fast-food workers and other service-related workers to keep the cooking dishes, utensils, and other food preparation equipment clean.
The job takes place in a restaurant, coffee shop, or food hall, with dishwashers earning an average annual income of £25,600.
4. Hosts & Hostesses
Mean Annual Wage: $24,800
Hosts and hostesses also work in venues that include coffee shops, restaurants, and lounges, and their role involves welcoming customers and showing them to their seats.
Additional duties can sometimes include making calls to the venue and making bookings for clientele, as well as recording reservations.
This entry-level position can lead to better-paid and more demanding roles in hospitality, such as bartending and waiting.
3. Fast-Food & Counter Workers
Mean Annual Wage: $24,540
Working in fast-food restaurants is one of the most popular low-paying jobs in America, with close to 3.5 million people currently in this job sector today.
No formal education is required, and the role requires minimal on-the-job training, and you can expect to get median annual earnings of $24,540.
As with some of the other lowest paying jobs in America, this requires you to greet customers, take orders, and process their payments.
Mean Annual Wage: $24,320
Starting as a shampooer is a good introduction to the world of hairstylists and cosmetologists, learning the basics about those professions.
You’ll shampoo, condition, and rinse the patron’s hair so they’re ready for a night on the town, working out of a salon.
While the salary is low, with a median hourly wage of around $11.60, it’s a great hands-on experience for people with a sociable personality.
Mean Annual Wage: $24,300
Working as a cook is another great entry-level role for those who want to work in hospitality and expand their culinary skills.
A basic cook’s wages begin at around $24,300 per year, often working in a fast-food establishment such as Burger King or KFC.
Work your way up the ranks, and you could prepare some of the most expensive pizzas in the world and turn out dishes for celebrity guests.
We hope you’ve found this guide to the best low-paying jobs in America useful, giving you some inspiration the next time you’re looking for casual work.
We’ll update this list in the future to ensure it reflects the most accurate wages for these roles, so be sure to check back again.
Here’s a quick recap of the 10 lowest-paying jobs in America:
- Fast-Food & Counter Workers
- Hosts & Hostesses
- Amusement & Recreation Attendants
- Pressers of Textiles, Garments, & Related Materials
- Gambling Dealers
- Dining Room & Cafeteria Attendants & Bartender Helpers
- Ushers, Lobby Attendants, & Ticket Takers
- Laundry & Dry-Cleaning Workers
- Childcare Workers
- Food-Preparation Workers
- Hotel, Motel, & Resort Desk Clerks
- Recreational Protective Services
- Gambling & Sports Book Writers & Runners
- Waiters & Waitresses
- Parking Attendants
- Maids & Housekeepers
- Home Health & Personal Care Aides
- Automotive & Watercraft Service Attendants
- Non-Farm Animal Caretakers
- Manicurists & Pedicurists